A few weeks ago, I was on an airplane with my oldest daughter, Emily, who just finished her first year of college and is enjoying summer break. Being with her brings back a lot of memories.At the time, she was staring out the window into the landscape of clouds below while we flew to a conference together in Chicago. As I watched her, I recalled moments from her birth and growing up years. And I thought about how hard is to explain the kind of love you have for your children. Continue reading
When I was in college, I had my first experience in mountain climbing.
I was traveling in Guatemala for a summer missions outreach when one morning, we woke up before dawn and rode a bus to the base of an active volcano. About twenty of us had decided to begin our climb in the dark so that we could summit the mountain at sunrise.
The night before, our team leader had talked to us about the climb. He explained how difficult the terrain would be as well as the altitude changes. He encouraged us to find team members whom we could stay with on the hike. He cautioned us that climbing was just as much emotional as it was physical, and that we must be committed to finishing as the last 100 meters of the climb would be the hardest.
This past week, I was talking to my wife about friendships. She had just been reading the book, Friendships Don’t Just Happen!: The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of Girl Friends by Shantel Nelson. In the book, the author refers to a study released on friendship in 2008 by professors from four universities called the Social Support and the Perception of Geographical Slant in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
Participants in their studies were asked to estimate the incline of a hill in front of them. Continue reading
The other morning, I woke up early in a hotel room in Atlanta, Georgia.
For a moment, I couldn’t remember where I was. Then it dawned on me that I was presenting that morning at a Growing Leaders Principal Roundtable event hosted by Dr. Tim Elmore. I dressed, grabbed my laptop bag and headed downstairs for a hot bowl of oatmeal and a cup coffee before walking the short-distance to the conference event center.
As I sat my bag down near a table up front, I was excited. Not only do I enjoy presenting to other school leaders but also, I was going to hear from some dynamic speakers and presenters as well as interact with principals during discussion times about their best practices.
My own kids tell me I geek-out about principal leadership, and this event was giving me permission to do just that. After playing some fun, interactive introduction games, the lessons began. Continue reading
In 2010, I had the privilege of traveling to China for ten days on an education tour.
One morning in Beijing, I headed outside the hotel before breakfast for a quick run. Later as I showered and dressed, I began to feel sick. I thought perhaps I was catching a cold or was just suffering from jet-lag. Over the next few days, we visited Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Great Wall before heading to another city.
As we traveled throughout Beijing, I noticed the skies were never blue. But on our trips outside of the city, the skies cleared. When I mentioned my observation to our tour guide, he told us it had been an especially cloudy season that summer in the city. But when we left Beijing a few days later, the skies cleared again.
I’m sure you have heard of China’s problems with smog and pollution in its cities, but I soon realized firsthand why I felt sick when I would go running. When is the last time you thought about the air you are breathing? Not just the physical oxygen your intake, but the emotional, cultural, and relational atmospheres that surround you. Even more importantly, what kind of atmosphere are you creating for those whom you are leading? Are you helping creating an environment of clean, healthy intakes, or are you contributing to an atmosphere of cultural pollution? Continue reading
When I was in college I climbed my first mountain which was an active volcano near Guatemala City.
We loaded a bus the night before and arrived hours before sunrise to begin our hike in the dark. As we made it up the mountain, the pale colors of morning began to greet us. With the altitude change came the hard work. Each one of us was catching our breath while plodding toward our destination.
The team leader for this climb had pulled all of us together before it began. He explained the route, described the climbing conditions, and gave each of us the opportunity to back out if the climb sounded too strenuous.
As we reached the last stretch toward the peak, the ground turned to rocky ash. Each step we would take forward would require the use of hands and knees. Soon we stopped talking as each person focused on the next step. Continue reading
This past weekend, NASA broadcasted the final transmission of the spacecraft, Cassini, as it plunged into the atmosphere of the planet Saturn that it had orbited and monitored for the past 13 years.
Cassini’s mission actually began in 1997. It took six years for it to reach Saturn, an its exploratory orbiting mission began. The spacecraft was originally slated to complete a 3-year mission of orbiting, but the technology proved to be so reliable that it remained working far beyond original plans. From 900 million miles away, this spacecraft took over 400,000 photos as well as transmitted data back to Earth about Saturn’s moons, rings, and atmosphere. The end of Cassini is also another hallmark moment for what amazing feats can be accomplished through human engineering, science, technology, and teamwork. Continue reading
This past week I hosted a webinar for principals as a part of a book study over Principal Matters: The Motivation, Action, Courage and Teamwork Needed for School Leaders.
In 2012, after being named Oklahoma’s Assistant Principal of the Year, I was asked to share ideas with new or aspiring leaders in graduate classes, workshops and conferences. And I was being asked a lot of the same questions about the pressures, challenges, and strategies involved in being a school administrator. So, I decided to start blogging about those issues. Eventually these same ideas became topics for my first book. Continue reading
The other night I was invited to visit a university classroom with sixteen educators who are working on graduate degrees in educational leadership.
I listened to each of them present vision and mission statements related to their work with students. It was obvious they had a strong understanding of the road ahead–they understood the “why” of school leadership. I was encouraged and optimistic thinking about the future of our schools in the hands of these potential leaders.
At the end of the evening, I was asked to say a few words to the students. I wanted to give them both a reality check as well as some encouraging reminders. So, I broke the conversation into two parts. Continue reading
Occasionally my wife will remind me when it’s been awhile since I’ve cleaned out my closet.
Summer break is a great time to “clean the closets” of our schools. I’m not talking about literal closets (which can also be helpful), but I’m talking about issues, priorities, goals, and conversations that have been neglected as you have been finishing a school year.
We just finished another school year at my high school. We wrapped up curriculum standards, graduated seniors and hired new teachers for next year. Many people ask me what I do with my summer break. The short answer is: I prepare for next school year. I often tell others that leading a school is like landing a cruise ship. When you finish one tour, you spend the break restocking for the next launch. Continue reading
Today’s podcast episode is the first in a series responding to listener and reader questions.
One assistant principal wrote me to ask, “How can I have a bigger leadership role as an assistant?”
This week I wanted to share the response with Principal Matters listeners. If you have other questions you’d like responses to about school leadership, leave comments below. Thanks for doing what matters! Continue reading